Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book Club: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake & Visit with Sarah Maclean

A lady does not smoke cheroot.

She does not ride astride.

She does not fence or attend duels.

She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen's club.

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried—and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she's vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she's been missing. But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss—to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston—charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.

If she's not careful, she'll break the most important rule of all—the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love . . .

Marie's thoughts:
This was such a great book. I so adored Callie and could really empathize with her as she watched her much younger sister become engaged to a Duke while Callie sat firmly "on the shelf" as the family spinster. The scene in which Callie overhears her sister and future husband talking about making accommodations for Callie in their home was so heartbreaking. And I loved when Ralston's butler assumes Callie is a courtesan when she arrives at his home late at night. When she brazenly asks Ralston to kiss her and he says, "Why now? Why not wait for a man to come along ... and sweep you off your feet?" And she says, "If the man you speak of had ever planned on coming, my lord, I'm afraid he has obviously lost his way. And, at twenty-eight, I find that I am tired of waiting." When Ralston tells her that kisses shouldn't leave her satisfied, they should leave her wanting.... Well, I was left wanting a whole lot more of him!

I adored every scene in which Callie breaks another rule with Ralston by her side. Watching Ralston go from amused to intrigued to besotted was wonderful. Their banter made me laugh out loud more than once! Other things I loved:
-Juliana's interaction with her brothers and Callie
-The love scenes--whoo! Hot!
-That Gabriel called her "Empress"
-That Gabriel came around to embracing Callie's list and making her mission his even as he tried to deny what he was beginning to feel for her
-When she talks about being trapped in a gilded cage on the dusty shelf, and he later asks if she wants him to free her from her cage
-That Callie, who waited 28 years for a marriage proposal, turned down two of them in as many days
-The duel: so fabulous! "I aimed wide!"

I loved it the first time, and I loved it all over again when I re-read it for book club. Looking forward to Ten Ways to Be Adored When Romancing a Lord and Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart. Sarah is giving away an eARC of Eleven and a signed copy of Ten! My first question for Sarah is obvious: did you come up with those fabulous titles all on your own? :-) Welcome to book club, Sarah!

Find out more about Sarah's books here.

Here's a great recipe recommended by our resident gourmet chef, Ronlyn!

Ham 'N' Swiss Loaf

3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
2 envelopes Fleischmann's® RapidRise Yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup very warm water (120° to 130°F)
1/4 cup prepared mustard
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
3 cups (about 1 pound) chopped cooked ham
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Swiss cheese
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimientos, well drained
3/4 cup diced dill pickles
1 egg, lightly beaten

In large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir warm water, mustard, and butter into flour mixture. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface 10 minutes.

On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 15 x 10-inch rectangle. Transfer to greased baking sheet. Sprinkle ham, cheese, pimientos, and pickles lengthwise over center-third of dough. With sharp knife, make cuts from filling to dough edges at 1-inch intervals along sides of filling. Alternating sides, fold strips at an angle across filling. Cover loaf; let rise in warm, draft-free place until almost doubled in size, about 20 to 40 minutes.

Brush loaf with egg. Bake at 375oF for 35 minutes or until done. Remove from sheet to wire rack. Serve arm. Refrigerate leftovers; reheat to serve.


krisgils33 said...

Welcome Sarah!!
I don't read many historicals, but, Marie, I have heard nothing but good things about this one from you (and others), so I must get to reading it soon!!! The scenes you've described are so funny, and such a tease, because now I really, really need to read it!!! (I knew I should have gotten to it before book club!!!!)

Marie Force said...

It was SUCH a fun book! I laughed a lot but Callie also made me cry and cheer for her, too! Loved Ralston! The perfect partner in crime in all ways.

Ronlyn said...

Morning all *shuffling to the coffee pot*
I read this last night after finally getting my computer to cooperate (yay me!) A very fun twist on the spinster who didn't want to just exsist.
I felt terrible for Callie when she overheard her sister and Riv talking about her, but I loved how she decided to start living.
I do believe my jaw dropped when Callie decided to cross off the first item on her list and headed out right then to do it. LOL.
Such courage.

Marie Force said...

So true, Ronlyn! I remember gasping at that, too. Like as if to say, SHE IS NOT! LOL

And the when the butler thinks she's one of THOSE women who end up on Ralston's doorstep.... Fabulous!

oklanannie said...

Good morning! Yummy recipe offered up by Ronlyn. I just love all these new recipes I'm adding to my collection.

"NRtBWRaR" is in my stack of rereads. Sarah Maclean was a new author to me. I read it when it first came out and I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I should have - especially after reading Marie's review. I remember that I loved the characters and the premise was a fresh and enticing storyline. However, I think it was read during a "gloomy" period of time for me; therefore I'm thinking it deserves a reread before her next one is released.

Wishing everyone a great day!

Ronlyn said...

another little bit that left me smiling was both Ralston & Callie's brother saying essentially the same thing about never letting her do (try scotch, smoke a cheroot I think it was.) With the two of them aiding her she had no problem crossing items off her list. :-)

Alison said...

Morning All!

This is my first Sarah Maclean book and I loved it. I've already bought the next book in the series!

I loved Ralston and Callie! When she showed up at his house right after making the list...all I could thing was NO WAY! She is not at his house! I've heard of liquid courage, but she took it to a new level!

I'm so glad Ralston embraced her list and started helping her mark things off. What a great pairing!

Mary G said...

I've read so many good things about Sarah & her books. The theme through every comment & review was hot & humorous. I love that. I think humor can be sexy anyway. Although I don't read many historicals, I remember thinking that Sarah could be the one to change that. Sorry I didn't get it done before Book Club.

Mary G said...

And recipe looks good Ronlyn.

Marie Force said...

I simply can't imagine you gloomy! :-) I would definitely give it another read because I loved it the second time as much as the first (and y'all know me, I never read books twice).

Marie Force said...

I loved that, too, how her brother and Ralston were both egging her on, knowing she needed to bust out of the gilded cage. They were unique for men of that time by thinking of her before their reputations or pride. I loved that about both of them!

Marie Force said...

No kidding about the liquid courage! I loved that she dove right in without a single clue of what she was getting into. She just knew what she was running away from. Perfect!

Marie Force said...

You will love this one! Make sure you check it out.

Mary G said...

For sure Marie.
I think the difference these days are that "these are not your mother's historicals' LOL.

The ones written today have strong heroines that I didn't see much of when I first starting reading romance novels. Even then, my faves were brave kick*** women who were very rare.

Marie Force said...

You are so right, Mary, and Callie is the kick-assiest kick-ass heroine. I just made up a new word! :-)

Hope said...

Good morning wenches...I did hope to get this book read before book club, but it wasn't to be this time. Sorry, but you will be happy to know that I did at least purchase it and it is in my TBR list. I am very much looking forward to this one, even though it is a historical, especially after reading your comments here today!!!! Callie sounds like my kind of woman.

Jackie P said...

I loved Marie's review and ideas for this book. Loved the title. Waiting for the next.

Sarah MacLean said...

Hi all! Marie, thanks so much for having me...I love the idea of an online book club! I'm so flattered that you chose me to join you this week...and thank you for saying such lovely things about the book!

To answer your question, I pitched Nine Rules with the title, but Ten Ways and Eleven Scandals's titles came later...very close to the completion of the books, actually. These titles are not easy to come up with!

@oklanannie - I'm sorry the book didn't deliver the first time around...I hope the second time's the charm!

@ronlyn - happy to hear that callie's decision rang true for you. that scene with Mariana & Riv and the aunt and the lace cap and the list was written and rewritten because I really wanted readers to understand what pushed Callie out the door!

@Alison - Thanks! So glad you enjoyed! Benedick is everyone's favorite older brother...if you liked him, you're in for a treat in Eleven Scandals...he's back!

Marie Force said...

Thanks so much for joining us. I'd love to hear about your journey to publication and anything you can share about the inspiration for Callie and her list.

It's so great to have a fellow Rhode Islander visiting us today! :-)

Sarah said...

GM -- I loved this book. I read it right after it first came out. In fact, I just finished Nick's story (Ten) and loved it just as much!! Looking forward to the next book!

Crystal said...

Hey Sarah I haven't had a chance to read this, but it is on my TBR list!! I've heard great things about Callie! I can't wait to read it!!

Johanna R Jochum said...

I read this book months ago and I LOVED it! I think it was one of the best historical romances I read last year! I loved the wit and the light fun storyline! I loved both the hero and heroine equally! I had not laughed out loud so much after reading this book in such along time! I ran out and bought the next book 10 ways a few weeks ago! I'm loving it and can't wait for 3rd! Is there going to be a 4th book! Thanks for sharing with us Marie and Sarah!


Sarah MacLean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah MacLean said...

My journey to publication isn't that interesting, actually...I've wanted to write romance novels for as long as I can remember...I grew up reading Garwood and McNaught and Lindsey and Deveraux and fell in love with the genre. I had a friend who edited YA, and suggested that I write an historical YA...which ended up being The Season. After that, I wanted to try writing adult romance, so I sat down and wrote Nine Rules...and the rest is history!

As for Callie...she's been in my head for a long time. I don't remember where the idea for the list came earliest memory of that part of the book is a conversation I had with my sister while walking my dog..."What could she do that would defy convention?" And we made this list of crazy things. After that, it was just a question of getting her there--it was such a fun book to write because of her crazy list!

I think people really connect with Callie because we've all been there, at that point when we hover on the precipice of where we are and where we might be. I think we all like the idea of closing our eyes and leaping into the future...I wanted to write a book about that leap.

@Sarah - I can't wait for Eleven to be in the about a fun book to write...Juliana is wild, and her duke is SO NOT WILD. Eager to hear what you think!

@Crystal - I totally understand the looming TBR pile! I've got the same problem!

@Johanna - Thank you so much!!! You're too kind! The book I'm working on now is not a part of the Love by Numbers series...It's the first in a new four-book series about four fallen aristocratic heroes who are led back into the light by love. It's a natural next book from Eleven, but a very different series.

Sarah said...

I just checked your blog and see Eleven is due out in April...I can't wait!!

After reading all the comments on here today, I want to pull out Nine Rules again and read it again.

Ronlyn said...

FYI all:
The recipe should say "Serve warm" not "serve arm." LOL
I figured you all could figure that out, but...

Kara C said...

Home long enough for a quick lunch and to stop by here. The fact that I get to have lunch today at all means things must be looking up!
A very heart-felt THANK YOU to both Marie and Sarah - Marie for convincing me to try this book, and Sarah for writing such a wonderful story! The laughs found in this book were just what I needed this week! I think my first laugh out loud moment was when Callie tells her brother she had gone to a public house. His reaction was great! He was so shocked, he just kept repeating what she said. LOL! The fencing club was another favorite scene, and the description of the Dowager Countess as a furry banana? What a visual!

Marie Force said...

Waiting to hear from Sarah on giveaways!

Next Up: See Jane Run by Rachel Gibson. See you back here next week!

Marie Force said...


Ronlyn will receive 10 Ways


Johanna gets the ARC of 11

Contact me at with addresses and I will pass the info to Sarah. See you Thursday for See Jane Score!

Alison said...

Congrats Ronlyn and Johanna!!

Mary G said...

Yeah! Congrats & enjoy ladies.

Donna said...

Reading SO Much possitives about this book- had to down load it to my nook!!!
Will be starting it tonight!!!!